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Pros: Kids can feel empowered by seeing their own best qualities summarized neatly.
Cons: Kids may be pressured by yet another part of the college-prep race; also, privacy and kids' ever-expanding digital footprints are issues of concern.
Bottom Line: While it offers resources for kids headed to college, it's hard to envision them actually wanting a LinkedIn profile.
If you're a school counselor or a teacher in an AVID program, try having students create their own profiles for practice or to use in their college and career searches. Writing the profile requires students to look closely at their accomplishments and goals; it's a good exercise in how to present themselves, showing off their best qualities. The rest of the site can help them move toward achieving those goals, whether through higher education or going directly into the job market.
Career and college advising centers may find LinkedIn's resources helpful in accessing information on specific colleges. Statistics and input from alumni can help paint a larger picture of a school. You could also have students check out the profile of a person they admire, and see what career and educational decisions helped them achieve their current success.
LinkedIn is a social networking website that allows users to organize employment and educational information on a resume-like page, then share with potential contacts in the job world. Teens 14 and up (13 and up in many other countries) sign up with an email and password, and list relevant career information, including education history, job experience, hobbies, organization membership, and the like.
You can then begin adding "connections," which could be classmates, colleagues, employers, companies, or schools. The site will prompt you to "see who you already know on LinkedIn" by allowing access to your email contacts, but it's not required. Once you've got some contacts, their updates will appear in your feed, and vice versa. You can also add skills to your profile to share your strengths, or join groups that you may find interesting. LinkedIn's new school pages list statistics, allow users to talk to alumni, and even help discover on-campus job opportunities.
Students can create an online profile with pertinent background information –- a resume of sorts. They'll find themselves thinking critically as they decide what information they'd like to share and how to make their best qualities shine. They'll also reflect on what makes them unique, and strategize about how they might come across to potential schools or employers. While LinkedIn isn't as social as Facebook, kids can make connections with peers, schools, and alumni whom they can contact for advice.
However, LinkedIn a mixed bag for kids overall. For older, motivated kids who are already knee-deep in the competitive college admissions game, it may be a natural step -- another opportunity to be recognized. But for 14-year-olds focused on soccer practice, slumber parties, and One Direction, joining LinkedIn probably isn't necessary. Nothing put on the Internet ever truly disappears, so kids should be as wary here as they are on Facebook about leaving an ever-larger digital footprint. On the plus side, the site has lots of information, and it's valuable to see where alumni have excelled post graduation. Kids can get personalized advice, updates on their schools of choice, and even learn about on-campus job opportunities. Modern kids are already used to sharing online, so one more social network may not be a big deal, and could even be empowering.